Do schools kill creativity? Yes, they did.

The other day my husband sent me a link to an old TEDTalk from 2006 by Sir Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?”, it was as good to watch as ever.  

I love this TEDTalk, make a coffee, tea, whatever and make time to watch this.

Firstly because Ken Robinson is so naturally very funny; a skill I truly admire and adore, the throwaways feel almost as much for him as for the rest of us.  He is way up the list of my fictional perfect dinner party guests.

Lastly because it’s such an important and increasingly pressing issue.  A topic which has been discussed more and more widely and frequently in the last few years… and yet only a few weeks ago, we witnessed the end of the History of Art A-level in the UK.

There were various crap pieces in the press exalting the end of an elitist subject mostly taught in private schools, missing the point completely, it should never have been allowed to become so narrowly studied in the first place.

I was lucky to study History of Art in my state (albeit grammar) school and so I know first hand how it opens up an evocative view into other important areas of thought and study: history, social history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, ethics, politics, slavery, industrialism, the class system, the welfare state, equality, discrimination, feminism, I could go on and on.

…but because, as with most curriculum areas taught to the masses we focus on teaching “facts and figures” stuff, we completely misunderstood History of Art as simply “learning about pretty paintings” rather than what it truly offered, the chance for any student to be inspired and challenged, to develop skills of observation, investigation, assessment and critical thought.

6 thoughts on “Do schools kill creativity? Yes, they did.

  1. I’m as disgusted as you are at the cancelling of art history A level courses, but feel it’s unfair to lay the killing of creativity at the door of schools. Teachers all over the country are leaving the profession or slogging on for financial reasons in the face of increasing pressure to narrow the curriculum and focus on facts based exams and rigid assessment programmes. I am one who left when SPAG took over from creative writing, relationships were removed from sex and relationships education and science was reduced to less than an hour a week. (And God help the poor RE teachers.) Best work presented on photocopied worksheets to avoid all that time wasting decoration and art work was the final straw. Trust me, none of this was instigated by teachers. It is all done to appease Ofsted and fit in with government policy.


    1. I agree with you Sarah.

      It was perhaps sloppy shorthand but for me schools does not equal teachers per se.

      Schools are where (most) children are educated. What happens inside is determined largely by government, in theory, as a democratically elected body, influenced by society…

      Our society at large doesn’t value the potential of education, only qualification. I gave up on schools when they started publishing league tables…

      Some of the best teachers in terms of practice, theory, sheer energy, inspiration and even love would forever more be hidden under the bushel of out-of-context exam passes.

      Hope that clarifies xxxxx


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